Overnight Briefing & General Reality Check - Nov 30, 2015
November 30, 2015
The President at play:
PRESIDENT OBAMA is in Paris for the start of a major international climate summit this week, joining leaders from more than 180 countries. The trip will also involve meetings on the world terrorism problem. (Pacelli)
Somewhere in Russia, EDWARD SNOWDEN is smiling.
As of yesterday, the National Security Agency is now no longer allowed to collect bulk phone metadata. That controversial surveillance program was shut down under the USA Freedom Act, signed by PRESIDENT OBAMA this past June.
From now on, authorities may only obtain the records of a person or device that is "specifically identified" in connection with a terrorist or criminal threat. That request must be made with a court warrant, for information that'll now be held by telecommunications companies. (Pacelli)
Today is the busiest day of the year for online sales, known as "Cyber Monday." More than 70 percent of online retailers are planning special promotions today following Thanksgiving this year compared to 42.7 percent just four years ago, according to Shop.org. (Shop.org's parent, the National Retail Federation, coined the term "Cyber Monday" in 2005 as recognition of the sales spike that occurs online every year on the Monday after Thanksgiving as people return to work.)
And just a tip --stay off the computer during the work hour of 1 pm (Eastern). An Atlas DMT survey says that's the peak time for online shopping.
Didja put up those strings of holiday lights outside or put up your Christmas tree over the weekend? Dou ya think your neighbors go a bit overboard on Christmas decorations? At least you don't live next to the guy with 1.2 million Christmas lights.
That's how many DAVID and JANEAN RICHARDS used to deck out their home in Canberra, Australia, to clinch last year's title. For the record, Guinness says the display included 75 miles of multicolored wire strung in the shape of three interconnected giant, wrapped Christmas gifts in a downtown Canberra mall. It's the largest-ever image made of LED lights.
In 2013, Richards won the Guinness title as well with 502,165 bulbs, but said last year "I couldn't do it again to my neighbors or my family." While we're on the subject, how much does it cost in electricity? Richard told reporters last year his electric bill ran around $2,291 each month his lights were up, although a local energy company covered the cost.
The Richards also set the record back in 2011 with 331,038 lights, but were unseated in 2012 by a family on Long Island, NY.
So how did Black Friday go?
Turns out shoppers spent $10.4 billion at stores on Friday... but in-store sales dropped from $11.6 billion in 2014 to $10.4 billion in 2015, according to the retail researcher ShopperTrak. Sales on Thanksgiving fell from just over $2 billion to $1.8 billion. And that's because there were more shoppers online this year --meaning 14 percent more online sales, or $2.72 billion altogether.
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